manga, Manga reviews

Review: My Dress-Up Darling vol. 1

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Story and art: Shinichi Fukuda
Genre: Ecchi, Romance, Slice of Life
Publisher: Square Enix Manga
Synopsis: A high school boy with a passion for traditional dolls and a talent for sewing gets roped into making cosplay outfits for one of the prettiest, most popular girls in his class! As the odd couple grows ever closer, they find themselves in ever racier situations!

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Whilst browsing for new manga to buy, I stumbled across My Dress-Up Darling. I have a weird thing about not wanting to read too much manga that has been adapted into anime, I can’t even explain this hangup, and My Dress-Up Darling looked really cute from the front cover, and it was a story about a cosplayer! Much more relatable to me than anything else I could have picked.

I thought I was in for something cute and wholesome, and whilst not entirely wrong, I was quite surprised when the manga arrived and it was wrapped in celophane. Always a dead giveaway. I then spotted the Parental Advisory warning, and wondered what I’d got myself into. Clearly, I have a problem reading product descriptions properly.

Wakana is a boy who is interested in traditional Japanese hina dolls, and having been teased about it as a child, he is very sensitive about his interests which are generally perceived as feminine. His classmate Marin is a popular and beautiful girl, who is unashamedly open about her interests in anime. Marin catches Wakana using a sewing machine at school, making clothes for his hina dolls. It’s not long before she recruits him to making her cosplay for her current obsession; a character from Saint Slippery’s Academy for Girls – The Young Ladies of the Humiliation Club: Debauched Miracle Life 2 (what a title), which is an eroge (an erotic videogame for the uninitiated), so it’s here where the Parental Advisory warning really comes into play.

Wakana and Marin are polar opposites, and it’s so nice to see the beginnings of their relationship. Wakana is a very sweet, innocent boy, and Marin seems pretty worldly, though admittedly we don’t know much about her from the first volume. Marin helps Wakana accept that it’s okay to accept your interests and that there’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, which is really refreshing and I wish I had someone tell me that when I was growing up.

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The basis of Wakana and Marin’s relationship is really interesting, and it does seem on the face of it that Wakana is giving a lot and Marin is taking, so I’m interested to see how it develops and how things balance out.

I also really enjoyed all the cosplay references, naturally. My Dress-Up Darling is actually surprisingly in depth about cosplay, talking a lot about things like patterning outfits, fabric choices and wigs. It’s actually a relief as it would have taken me out of it a lot if it had been inaccurate.

Of all the manga I’ve accidentally bought, My Dress-Up Darling is up there as one of my favourites.

8 stars

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: Distraint

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Cast your mind back to my little platinum run of games, when I played Distraint Deluxe EditionThe reason for my choosing Distraint to play in the first place was because it was listed on Playstation Trophies as an easy platinum.

Distraint isn’t difficult, it’s mostly a point and click sidescroller, so there’s nothing too challenging about the gameplay. There are a few puzzles which might take some more thinking than others, but if you really don’t want to do too much thinking then there are plenty of walkthroughs online that you can follow.

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There’s a lot to be enjoyed with Distraint, and as said in my review, the story is an interesting one and pretty compelling, so playing it blind is probably the best option, in my opinion! It took me around 45 minutes to get the platinum with a guide, and I think I would have gotten a lot more enjoyment out of the game had I not used a guide.

Playstationtrophies.org lists Distraint as a difficulty rating of a 1 or 2, and timewise it lies in 0-5 hours on votes with most commentors stating that it took around an hour.

2020 challenges, Challenges

2020 Challenges: September Recap

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Watch 40 anime

September end total: 27

A slow month for September anime, but I added 3 titles to my total, Sing Yesterday For Me, Junjou Romatica 2, and The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED. I’m going to finish this challenge if it kills me, because it’s probably the only one I will do!

Watch 40 movies in the cinema

September end total: 5

So, I put my Unlimited card on hold because I still don’t feel comfortable going to the cinema, and then the following week Cineworld announced that all their cinemas are closing, so this challenge is officially cancelled!

Platinum 20 games

September end total: 12

Again, not a fruitful month for platinum trophies, but I did manage to add one to the list – Trails of Cold Steel 2. I’m working on Trails of Cold Steel 3 at the moment, and then Trails of Cold Steel 4 comes out, hooray! I’m still quietly confident about this one though, I think I can get another few platinum trophies by the end of the year.

Read 15 books

September end total: 7

In September I read two books; The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which I enjoyed somewhat. Having loved The Hunger Games a lot, I thought I’d really enjoy it but it was a bit mediocre in places and took me a long time to read it. My second book was A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, which I really enjoyed and read in a couple of sittings!

Finish 100 best movies

September end total: 2

Finish Naruto

September end total: 4 episodes

blog, purchases

September Purchases

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I’m on a bit of a manga trip lately, which is evident from this post. The idea was that I wanted to read a bunch of newer stuff to practice writing manga reviews. I’ve done one so far, and I did enjoy writing it, but have hit a stumbling block with writing, but I’m hoping to have more stuff up soon. I think this month was a fairly light month as I was very aware that the PS5 comes out in November so I need to be saving some money.

IMG_8164My first lot of manga was me continuing existing collections. I bought all three copies I had left to get of That Wolf-Boy Is Mine, but only two arrived in September. Typical. I also bought volume 40 of Haikyuu!!, which is kind of bittersweet because it means that there are only 5 volumes left, boo! I also bought the next volume of My Dress Up Darling because I really enjoyed the first volume (review to come!).

 

IMG_8165As is customary, I also bought a lot of BL this month. In fact, I might have got carried away. My problem with having incomplete collections once again reared its ugly head and I felt compelled to buy all the volumes of Don’t Be Cruel that I didn’t already have, as well as The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese and The Carp On The Chopping Block Jumps Twice (collection complete), and the new volume of given. 

 

IMG_8162I bought a couple of blu-ray this month to add to the collection too. Firstly, Weathering With You, which I got to see at Scotland Loves Anime last year and I already know that I love, and secondly Bartender, that I’ve never seen before, but the concept seemed interesting and the special edition looked really cool.

 

 

IMG_8163Finally for this month, I bought some games! I was recommended Nelke and The Legendary Alchemist as I wanted something that was like a world building simulation. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m excited to! I also bought 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, which I also haven’t started, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!

 

That’s all for this month, I’m SO excited for October’s post because it’ll have Trails of Cold Steel IV in! Hooray!

Anime

HypMic anime time!

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Hypnosis Microphone is a Japanese multimedia project spanning drama CDs, music, mobile games, manga, stage plays, and is soon to be adapted into an anime. If you’re here for an overview of Hypnosis Microphone lore, or a breakdown of characters, then you are in the wrong place. I don’t fully have a grasp on that myself.

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I discovered Hypnosis Microphone as one of the songs popped up on my weekly Apple Music ‘For You’ playlist, and I liked it. I questioned a friend who loves idols, v-idols and the like, and they advised me not to even attempt getting into the background of it all, and to wait for the anime, saying it was a messy and complicated road that lay ahead of me. So that’s what I did. I know a vague background of the plot from quick Google searches, so I have some kind of idea what it’s about – women rule politics (as it should be), and men fight through rap battles. Brief, to the point, and probably missing a lot of important information.

I don’t think it’s an understatement to say Hypnosis Microphone has been the theme of my pandemic. I was getting into it just before my (cancelled) trip to Japan, and since the lockdown started my obsession has multiplied. I couldn’t have picked a better time to get into the franchise. I’ve done nothing but listen to Hypnosis Microphone the last 6 months or so, and it’s catapulted into my heavy rotation. It’s also launched a whole genre of music on me – my recommendations are full of similar, v-idol/j-idol music, and I’m totally embracing it.

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Down below are links to some of my favourite Hypnosis Microphone songs, to get us all in the spirit for the release of the anime. I’ve included one ensemble song and one song from each of the main units, and have tried to limit it to a few songs. Honestly, it’s one of those things I could get totally carried away with as the songs are incredible, but I didn’t want it to be a link dump. Sorry it’s just links, I couldn’t embed videos for whatever reason!

Division Rap Battle

Break the Wall (Buster Bros) (I could only find the trailer for this!)

The Champion (Matenro) (I could only find the trailer for this too, boo!)

Shibuya Marble Texture – PCCS (Fling Posse)

Yokohama Walker (Mad Trigger Crew)

The anime launches this Friday 2nd October (also Haikyuu!! return day, what a day!).

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: One Night Stand

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Back when I decided to do a little platinum trophy number boost, I bought One Night Stand in the PSN sale for relatively cheap, you may remember I wrote a review on it. I had chosen One Night Stand, among a few others, as it was reported to be a quick platinum, and when I say quick, I mean quick. I managed to get the platinum trophy for One Night Stand in around 45 minutes.

There are guides for One Night Stand out there, but essentially what you’re aiming to do is get all the available endings and fill out all the pictures on the phone that appears at the end of each route. The game gives you clues about how to get each picture, so you’re not flying totally blind.

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From memory, there’s one other trophy which isn’t tied into an ending and relates to a decision that you have to make in the game, but it is kind of a spoiler, so I won’t say!

I would recommend anyone playing One Night Stand to play through a normal route first, and attempting to fill in the blanks themselves, but if you don’t want to do this then there are a lot of guides out there. This is the one I used, or you can find your own with a simple Google search – just make sure you add ‘game’ at the end of ‘One Night Stand’, or you could end up with some interesting search results!

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Over at Playstationtrophies.org One Night Stand is rated with 1/10 difficulty and a 1-2 hour time estimate. I agree with the difficulty rating; nothing in this game is a challenge, and even without guides everything is quite straightforward and easily figured out. The 1-2 hours estimated platinum time is probably fair. Like I said, I got it in 45 minutes, but I used a guide for the most part, so without a guide 1-2 hours is pretty reasonable.

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Our Dreams At Dusk

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Story and art: Yuhki Kamatani
Genre: Drama, Psychological, Slice of Life
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Synopsis: Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

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This review is of the full four volumes, despite image above being for the first volume.

The opening pages of Our Dreams at Dusk are pretty hard to read. Tasuku Kaname’s classmates discover he is gay, and as a result he considers suicide, believing that his life is over now his secret is out. Whilst Tasuku contemplates his fate, he sees a woman who appears to jump over a railing to her own death. Tasuku runs to the location to assist the woman, and finds Someone-san alive and well. Someone-san tells Tasuku to talk about his problems, but she won’t listen if he does.

Following Someone-san to a drop-in centre, Tasuku meets other members of the LGBT+ community and becomes involved in a restoration project rennovating an old house. As Tasuku develops relationships with the other characters, he is brought back from the brink and often remarks that he’s glad he didn’t end his life.

At it’s heart Our Dreams at Dusk has a really endearing story which made me feel a lot of things. For the past couple of years I’ve struggled with my own identity and labels, as have many of the characters in Our Dreams at Dusk. There’s a lot of focus in Our Dreams at Dusk on accepting yourself as who you are, and not getting caught up with labels or opinions of others, and it’s really refreshing to see in a manga, and resonated a lot with me and gave me a lot of food for thought. As Tasuku himself says “I think not knowing is okay. There’s nothing weird about that.”

Tasuku develops really well throughout the manga, and it’s really fulfilling to see how he grows and changes, becoming more confident in himself and about his own feelings. With the help of the supporting cast, Tasuku explores what it is to be a member of the LGBT+ community, and gradually accepts himself.

Sometimes it does feel like Our Dreams At Dusk has a character for every LGBT+ label, almost as if the mangaka used a checklist to make sure everyone was represented, and as a result it does sometimes feel a bit performative, but nonetheless it’s still really encouraging to see minorities represented in a respectful way.

Something to be aware of when reading this manga is that there are a lot of anti-LGBT slurs used. If you’re sensitive to that kind of language, then please go in knowing that. The language isn’t used gratuitously, and ultimately does serve a purpose within the context of the story.

8 stars

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Buried Stars

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Visual novel Buried Stars is an interesting one. With many saying online that the game has come from nowhere, its sudden release has surprised, and delighted, a lot of people. From Korean Studio Largo, Buried Stars follows the events of the titular reality show, which is set in the final stages of a K-pop talent contest. Unfortunately for our characters, tragedy befalls the event, and the building that it’s filmed in collapses, trapping the five remaining contestants and members of the production staff. Playing as Do-Yoon Han, one of the contestants, it’s down to you to unravel what has happened, and survive until the rescue squad arrives.

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From the off, the concepts within the game are well explained. Each contestant has been given a smartwatch by the show’s sponsors, though some have more features than others. The smartwatch functions as normal, with access to call contacts, voice notes, photos, and the in-game social media network, Phater. All of these are mechanics which will become integral as the game progresses.

Read my full review at Push Square.

blog, purchases

August Purchases

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If you remember my last purchases post, you’ll recall that I had anticipated a heavy August Purchases post to get through my imposed 2 week lockdown prior to my Nan’s operation. Putting this post together, I’m surprised that there isn’t more, and I feel like I was reasonably restrained… ish.

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As usual, I bought a few manga. Adding to my Haikyuu!! and Full Metal Alchemist collections once again, and starting two new collections. I’ve not read Spy x Family yet, but I’ve heard really good things about it online, so I’m looking forward to starting that. I also bought My Dress Up Darling, which I have read and it was…. kind of a surprise. I bought it because it seemed like a cute story about cosplay, and it kind of is, but when I say it came wrapped in plastic, I think that probably tells manga readers all they need to know! Nevertheless, I did enjoy the first volume and I’ll continue to buy it to see where the story goes! I’m going to write up a proper review about it soon (someone please hold me to that).

 

IMG_9260Of course, I wouldn’t get through a month without buying some BL so I got a little haul this month. I bought all volumes of Escape Journey, which I promptly realised I actually have already read. I did really enjoy it though, and I have a feeling I couldn’t find the last couple of chapters anywhere at the time I read it so I’m glad to own it so I can finish it properly! I also bought the latest published volume of given, so I can continue to stay up to date with that collection!

 

IMG_0634I bought two games this month. The first was Fire Emblem Fates Birthright. For some reason I’ve been picking up old Fire Emblem games when I see them, and someone on Instagram was selling this one for pretty cheap, so I got it. Realistically, I know the chances of me playing it are pretty slim – my PS4, Vita and Switch backlogs are bad enough, without me adding the 3DS into the mix! I also bought Nexomon Extinction, which as a premise is very similar to Pokémon in that you catch and train Nexomon to win battles. I haven’t played that much of it, maybe 3 hours or so, but what I have played I have enjoyed and I hope to get back to it properly soon!

 

IMG_3348To round off the August Purchases, a modest blu-ray haul. I got Kiss Him Not Me, which I’ve never seen before, and also added to my Studio Ghibli collection by buying Laputa: Castle In The Sky. 

 

 

 

So, that was what I bought in August! Pretty pared back for me, I’m sure you’ll all agree!

2020 challenges, Challenges

2020 Challenges: August Recap

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Watch 40 anime

August end total: 24

Anime August was pretty successful, and I managed to get 8 shows watched. I will (probably) have reviews up for all of the shows I watched, but I added these to my ‘watched’ list:

  • Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
  • Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
  • Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
  • Parasyte -the maxim-
  • Zombie Land Saga
  • King’s Game
  • Demon Slayer
  • A3! Season Spring & Summer

Now I’ve boosted this total a bit, I feel like this is a pretty acheivable goal for my challenges!

Watch 40 movies in the cinema

August end total: 5

Hands up if you’re still not comfortable going to the cinema! It’s me, I’m not comfortable! I cannot see myself going back to a cinema before the year is out, so this one is sort of null and void really.

Platinum 20 games

August end total: 11

Not quite such a lucrative month for platinum trophies in August as July had been, but I did manage to get one under the belt; the Fairy Tail game. I will write a platinum review for it, eventually!

Read 15 books

August end total: 5

After finishing Howl’s Moving Castle I started the new Hunger Games book, and I haven’t finished it yet. It’s such a big and heavy book, it always feels like such a hassle to read it because I can barely hold it up properly, so I have not made any headway on this challenge.

Finish 100 best movies

August end total: 2

Finish Naruto

August end total: 4 episodes

Oh boy. Sometimes I get the urge to watch Naruto, but then I think about how futile it is to think I’m going to finish it and then I just sort of give up. Which is not the attitude to have, but it speaks volumes I think.